As hard as this last year has been, one way most of us have had to cope is to try to take whatever good we can with the bad. Hannah Judge found herself laid up in bed for 10 months, as a result of a flare up from Crohn’s disease, and to combat the endless days of boredom, she used the time to craft her exquisite debut EP Hurt Is Boring. Under the moniker fanclubwallet, Judge creates the type of quirky indie songs that would often be placed under the genre of bedroom pop and here, in Judge’s case, that classification is its most literal.
Between visits to the doctor, Judge and her grade school best friend and producer Michael Watson would meet up to lay down her songs and as she says, in regards to taking the good with the bad she experienced, “You can’t really appreciate one without the other.” Now with her Crohn’s in remission and the EP out and available to help the rest of us through our emotional, and literal, distance, Judge reflects on the process that brought her to this point and how her own year isolated from the world was dealt with the one thing that made her feel better; her songwriting.
“I’m stuck in bed,” Judge explains when we reach her over Zoom from her home in Ottawa, “and I’d call my producer and be like, can you come over and set up the whole studio, like, in the corner of my bedroom, so I don’t have to move?” The process of making the EP doesn’t sound like it was the easiest but as the charming and effervescent Judge says, “It was mostly just a lot of a lot of problem solving but I’m glad that I had something to do. I had been sick before and rewatched all of Glee and I couldn’t do that again,” she says with a laugh. Hurt Is Boring is a pretty startling achievement regardless of the fact that Judge was stuck in bed for most of the process. She is a marvellous writer and balances the breeziness of her musical compositions with a lyrical content that often eschews on the darker side. “I was driving when the airbag popped and knocked sense into me, I was crying when the shrapnel hit and cut out part of me, You were lying when the cop asked you about me,” Judge sings on “Car Crash In G Major”, metaphorically comparing the ending of a relationship to a horrible car accident. Out of context from the tracks bouncy drum beat and Judge’s skip rope vocal melody it is quite sinister but wrapped in her voice and guitar it positively bounds out of your speakers. When asked about this juxtaposition between her music and lyrics, Judge says it’s not necessarily something she ever intended on. “I did like an Instagram story thing” she explains, “and someone said something along the lines of my lyrics being really emo and I hadn’t thought so but I looked back, and I was like, oh, my god, those are really, truly depressing. I have this older song that I’m probably not going to release, but I was re-listening to it last night and the chorus is about, like, hoisting yourself up a flag on a pole. It’s called corpse on a pole,” she laughs, “and I was like, that’s really brutal. Why did I write that?”
The writing process for the EP was one that just kind of snuck up on Judge based a lot around the fact that she had so much time on her hands while in bed at home. “I had more time to write as I was in bed all day. I would spend a lot of time messing around on the guitar and for a while I wasn’t writing any lyrics about my situation, about being sick. Then after it had been going on for a long time it started to kind of weasel its way into my lyric writing. I feel like I’m still trying to figure out how to write about it in a way that doesn’t sound kind of stupid,” she chuckles. “I’m still trying to figure out how to do it in a way that I think doesn’t sound silly.” Whatever Judge has done to get to where she ended up on Hurt Is Boring certainly doesn’t come off as silly. In fact, after the last year we’ve all had, many of the album’s themes, including taking the good with the bad have become more resonant. “When I was in the hospital I spent a lot of time listening to albums that were coming out or my own music, and I’d imagine playing a show or going on tour and I just couldn’t wait to do that. To focus on those positive thoughts was cool. It was like, this is a good thing that is happening here and I can separate those from this bad thing that is happening. Last year was similar in a way. Everyone was having a bad time this year. I feel like these thoughts can maybe resonate with a lot of people. Just taking the good things that we can find with the bad that is happening.”
The way that Judge can uncomplicate these scenarios we find ourselves is one of the key reasons her songs have resonated with listeners. After a year of going through an awful situation and coming out on the other side of it with a gorgeous piece of work like Hurt Is Boring is more than commendable. It’s inspiring to think that, hopefully, we can all come out of this last year with a sense that it wasn’t all for nothing. That we have learned a thing or two or, at the very least, let it infuse ourselves with the intention that we can make something good come out of all this. Like Judge sings on the EP’s title track, “Hurt is boring/But so is happiness/And I think that I like/One more than the other”.
Purchase, download or stream Hurt Is Boring, out now, HERE.